When Someone Says, “America Should Get Back to ‘Biblical Principles'”

When Someone Says, “America Should Get Back to ‘Biblical Principles'”, this is all too often what they mean:

HT: Joel Watts

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Done and Done: Supreme Court invalidates DOMA, Effectively Ends Prop 8 in CA

Equality Smiley

Sometimes they get one right! And on this occasion, it’s a Double Rainbow all the way! ;-)

http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/26/19151971-supreme-court-strikes-down-defense-of-marriage-act-paves-way-for-gay-marriage-to-resume-in-california?lite

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/26/politics/scotus-same-sex-main/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/06/26/195857796/supreme-court-strikes-down-defense-of-marriage-act

And the decision clears the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California.

This debate is certainly not over, but at least now people can enjoy the same marriage rights while we’re having the debate.

And I’ll certainly continue the discussion with those who have concerns about the religious arguments pertaining to same-sex marriage and what the Bible ACTUALLY SAYS about marriage.

Until then, I remain on record for Marriage Equality!

So for now, let us celebrate the fact that our nation has crept a little bit closer to equality.

And unfortunately, let the fear mongering, hatred, and bigotry from fundies in the name of Jesus begin!

And let us begin with Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who sounded more pissed than professional in his dissent. Seriously, I expect that kind of rhetoric from the Glenn Becks and Bryan Fischers of the world, but not from an Associate Justice toward a colleague.

Then again,

Huffington Post story on Iowa Professors’ Des Moines Register Editorial on “Biblical Marriage”

Meredith Bennett-Smith of the Huffington Post has published an article entitled, “Biblical Marriage Not Defined Simply As One Man, One Woman: Iowa Religious Scholars’ Op-Ed“, which examines an editorial that Dr. Hector Avalos (Iowa State), Dr. Kenneth Atkinson (University of Northern Iowa), and I wrote for the Des Moines Register. (UPDATE: The link to the article at the Des Moines Register is broken, but there is a .pdf copy of the article on my Academic.edu page that you can download and read.)

I blogged about this a few days ago.

Ms. Bennett-Smith interviewed me for the piece. The HuffPo article does a nice job of summarizing the editorial:

“The Bible’s definition of marriage can be confusing and contradictory, noted the scholars. They stated in their column that a primary example of this is the religious book’s stance on polygamy, a practice that was embraced by prominent biblical figures Abraham and David. Furthermore, Avalos, Cargill and Atkinson point out that various Bible passages mention not only traditional monogamy, but also self-induced castration and celibacy, as well as the practice of wedding rape victims to their rapists.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Iowa University Professor Robert R. Cargill said the column was the brainchild of his colleague Hector Avalos, who suggested local scholars put together an “educated response” to the often-touted claim that the Bible defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman. “[T]hat’s not the only thing the Bible says,” Cargill told HuffPost.”

The Des Moines Register editorial concludes:

“So, while it is not accurate to state that biblical texts would allow marriages between people of the same sex, it is equally incorrect to declare that a “one-man-and-one-woman” marriage is the only allowable type of marriage deemed legitimate in biblical texts.”

That is to say, the point of the editorial is that while the Bible cannot be used to sanction same-sex marriage (because it clearly opposes male homosexuality), it ALSO cannot be said to endorse ONLY marriage between “one man and one woman” because the Bible (the whole Bible, not just the New Testament) clearly offers polygamy, marriage imposed upon men who sexually violated women, and Levirate marriage as God-ordained, God-sanctioned marriage options. (Remember, these forms of marriage were commanded in the law in an attempt to protect women from the abuses of men and a society where women did not have rights equal to men.)

The article concludes that we should be careful when attempting to use ancient religious documents to legislate modern social relationships. Or as we conclude in the editorial:

“Accordingly, we must guard against attempting to use ancient texts to regulate modern ethics and morals, especially those ancient texts whose endorsements of other social institutions, such as slavery, would be universally condemned today, even by the most adherent of Christians.”

So nowhere in the editorial do we endorse polygamy. (In fact, I am personally opposed to polygamy because it tends to promote the continued suppression of women, as polygamy is usually one man and multiple wives – not the other way around – and often within a religious context.) The point of the article is not to promote polygamy, but to point out that marriage between “one man and one woman” is not the only form of God-ordained, God-endorsed, and in some cases, God-mandated marriage in the Bible.

In the HuffPo article, I also address the attempts by politicians and fundamentalists to use snippets of the parts of the Bible they like (“cherry picking”) for political purposes and for purposes of focused, special condemnation:

“Politicians who use the Bible aren’t necessarily interested in the truth or the complexity of the Bible,” he said. “They are looking for one ancient sound bite to convince people what they already believe.”

Give it a read. I welcome comments on the HuffPo article, here on this post, or debate the issue with me and my colleagues on my FB page. Just remember that my wife and I just had twins, and that my spare time to respond to comments is limited (and often covered in spit-up ;-).

Three Iowa Religious Studies Profs Author Joint Editorial on Claims of “Biblical” Marriage

Iowa State Univertities

Three Iowa Universities: The University of Iowa, The Iowa State University, and The University of Northern Iowa.

Three religious studies professors: Dr. Hector Avalos (Iowa State), Dr. Robert R. Cargill (Iowa), and Dr. Kenneth Atkinson (UNI)

One joint statement in the Des Moines Register entitled, “Iowa View: 1 man, 1 woman isn’t the Bible’s only marriage view“, warning against those who attempt to claim that the Bible defines marriage as only “between one man and one woman”. (UPDATE: The link to the article at the Des Moines Register is broken, but there is a .pdf copy of the article on my Academic.edu page that you can download and read.)

Please read the editorial. It demonstrates the potential flaws and consequences in attempting to root modern civil and social institutions like marriage and its legislation in 2000+ year old religious documents that often say more than people think they say.

In response to Jim West’s “narrowly concerned” spittle

A Haredi man spits at a passerby.

In response to Jim West’s continued, passive-aggressive attempts to defend his oppression of the civil rights and privileges of same-sex couples by taking every chance possible to turn any news story into a shot against those who support marriage equality, here’s my response to his latest rhetorical spit-curse in the direction of those whose blogs he feels ‘to narrowly’ focus on the defense of the rights of same-sex couples. (And it is a spit-curse: an unprovoked shot at those with whom he disagrees on a certain issue while routinely passing by a completely unrelated topic. Some Haredim do it to tourists in Jerusalem; Jim does it to other bloggers online.)

Jim wrote:

Today’s term:  ’Narrowly concerned‘.

Narrowly concerned: n. a person who is terribly concerned for ‘marriage equality’ but totally silent about the deaths of 1000 Bangladeshis.

My response:

I’m guessing it’s because no one rallies to the defense of the Bangladeshi sweat shop owners, advocating to suppress the rights of the sweat shop workers. No one calls the near slave-like conditions the “natural order” of business in a capitalistic society, and no one argues that calling for workers’ rights is “angry advocacy” by quoting passages instructing slaves to obey their masters, parables teaching workers to work for their agreed upon wages (Matt 20), and instructions for women to remain silent.

EVERYONE realizes that this is a tragic situation and EVERYONE is calling for reform and punitive action to be taken against those who oppress these women, UNLIKE those who oppose marriage equality, who grasp for reasons to continue to deny gay couples the civil rights and privileges their oppressors enjoy.

The reason you don’t see a fight over this is that people are smart enough in THIS scenario to realize that one group is suffering under oppression/lack of civil justice, unlike same-sex marriage, where there are still people (believe it or not) who think that it’s OK to oppress another group because either their religion or their tradition (usually as the result of religion) tells them to do so.

CAN YOU IMAGINE someone rallying to the defense of the Bangladeshi sweatshop owner? CAN YOU IMAGINE a scholar arguing that these women “had it coming” because “they knew what they were getting into”, while quoting Matthew 20:13 over and over and over again, claiming it’s the “revealed” word of God. Because THAT’S what those who oppose same-sex marriage look like to the now majority of Americans who support marriage equality for same-sex couples.

That’s probably why. It’s easy to condemn the universally condemnable. It’s much more difficult to stand up for the oppressed minority and condemn the establishment. If I’m going to be “narrowly focused” on a blog (as if I have the free time to “report” redundantly on and condemn everything in the news as some do), may it ever be in defense of those who must fight against a bigoted populace AND the religious authorities who empower and perpetuate their oppression.

Methinks Chris Broussard WANTS to get fired

Chris Broussard

Chris Broussard

Methinks ESPN’s Chris Broussard WANTS to get fired. Following Chris Broussard’s declaration that newly-out gay NBA player Jason Collins is “not a Christian,” which I discussed yesterday, we have this interview where Broussard argues on the New York-based Power 105.1 “Breakfast Club” radio show, that gays can be saved if they ask for God’s forgiveness.

What startles me is the theological ignorance and the inconsistency and irrationality of his argument that immediately becomes apparent when he begins to elaborate his views on homosexuality, AND his misunderstanding of the relationship between the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) and the New Testament. Gone are thoughts of Jesus in Matt 5:17-19, where he says:

Matt. 5:17  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Matt. 5:18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
Matt. 5:19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Rather, we see a textbook example of the theological fallacy of Christian “Replacement Theology,” where Christians feel that the NT “trumps” the OT, but only in places they want it to. So while Broussard points out Peter’s vision of the “unclean” animals in Acts 10 is used to dismiss kosher regulations banning unclean foods, he uses the abolition of this one regulation to dismiss all other Old Testament laws…at least those he doesn’t consider to be “moral” laws.

If it sounds confusing, it’s because it IS confusing and makes no sense.

At one point, the hosts even say, “You sound like the white guy who says, ‘Hey, Im not racist. I got black friends’.”

Here are some transcripts I made from the interview:

Broussard:

“All of us fall and stumble, and I have fallen and stumbled many times since I’ve been a Christian, but I always, you know, repent and ask God for his forgiveness, and, you know, I’m movin’ forward from there. I think that’s the mark of a Christian. And I think if a person…that…

Stumbling and falling while you’re tryin’ to live for the Lord is different than goin’ out huntin’ for sin. You know, I’m goin’ out and gettin’ into it tonight. I’m gonna be mad if I don’t get into any sin. So… you know, I’m tryin’ to make you to accept my sin life. I don’t care what God said, I’m just livin’ like this. That’s different than a person who’s sincerely strivin’ to live the right way and stumbles, legitimately falls. Get back up. Get on your path. You’re forgiven. And let’s keep tryin’.”

Host: “What exactly does the Bible say about homosexuality?”

Broussard:

“It says it’s a sin. First Corinthians chapter six verse nine says fornicators, homosexuals, robbers, thieves, adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God. It goes on to list a few other things. Romans chapter one says it’s unnatural. Obviously the Old Testament talks about it bein’ wrong…”

Host: “Well Chris, Deuteronomy 14:8 condemns the eating of pork, but I bet you love bacon.”

Broussard:

“I sure do, man, I sure do. But, you know, the Old Testament dietary laws don’t apply in the New Covenant. Acts chapter 10, Peter, you know, talks about that as the Lord revealed it to Peter, so all of the Old Testament laws, there’s 613 laws in the Old Testament that they had to follow under the old covenant. We’re under grace. We don’t have to follow all of those 613 laws to have peace with God. But the moral covenant, because it’s outlined in the New Covenant, the New Testament, as I said, First Corinthians six, Ephesians, Romans, Galatians chapter five, talk about the new covenant still following the moral code of the Old Testament. So the moral laws of the Old Testament that we were taught still apply, but not eatin’ shrimp, and wearin’ blended cloth and fabric and things like that.”

So wait, because ONE of the laws (dietary) are trumped in the NT, ALL of the OT laws are dismissed? And who distinguished the ‘moral’ laws from the…well, what do we even call the ‘non-moral’ laws of the Old Testament?

This is one of the most ignorant, uninformed understandings of the Hebrew Bible I’ve ever heard. (Actually, I’ve heard worse, but…) Note how Broussard says, “We’re under grace. We don’t have to follow all of those 613 laws to have peace with God.” Note he said we don’t have to follow all of them…just the ones he wants to continue to enforce, like condemning gays.

But it gets worse:

Broussard:

“I’m married seventeen years. Never cheated on my wife. But man, I’ve been tempted. You know what I’m sayin’? I mean, I cover the NBA. I see beautiful women all the time. I’ve had actresses throw me a little rhythm. But I gotta resist. I gotta fight against temptation. And that’s the life of a Christian. That you fight against the temptation. And if you stumble and fall, then you get back up, you repent, you ask God for forgiveness, and you move on. And I think that applies to homosexuals as well. If a person who’s a same-sex attracted, you know, is sincerely tryin’ to live for the Lord, and they fall, and they fall in the same-sex relationship or act, and they, they is really tryin’ to serve the Lord, they repent, and they ask for forgiveness, and they keep trying to serve God and they fall time and time again consistently, I believe that person is a Christian.

But that’s why I said yesterday it’s about unrepentant sin. There’s a difference. Am I repenting, or am I just saying, ‘Yo, this is how I am God, I don’t care what you say. I don’t care what your word – I’m not even askin’ for forgiveness. How you gonna be forgiven if you ain’t even askin’ for it?”

Then Broussard continues:

“The question is your heart. Add you know that. Are you really tryin’ not to fornicate, not to sleep with that girl over and over again. Because God…the Bible says God is not mocked. God ain’t no punk. You ain’t no punk. I ain’t no punk. None of y’all punks. If I come to you and I say, ‘Yo man, I wanna be in covenant with you, I wanna be your boy. We cool.’ But behind your back, I’m goin’ out time and time again and dissin’ you and doggin’ you on purpose, but when I see you in your face, I’m like, “Yo man, you know, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry man,’ but I don’t really mean it, then, you ain’t gonna go for that once you find out the truth because you ain’t no punk. You ain’t mocked. And it’s the same thing with God. We created in his image. So if we ain’t punks and gonna fall for that, then he certainly ain’t gonna go for that. BUT, if I’m your boy and I sincerely mess up. I just happen to do something wrong against you and you know I’m really sorry, and I’m like, ‘Yo man, my bad. I ain’t gonna do it no more, dog. I’m sorry,’ then you’ll forgive me in many cases, and it’s the same with God.”

Again, this is an example of theological dilettantism.

So, in Broussard’s mind, it’s OK to sin again and again and again heterosexually, and if you ask for forgiveness, you’re OK, because “God knows your heart”, and you’re “his boy”. BUT, if your sin is homosexual and you sin again and again habitually, and you ask for forgiveness, then you’re “not God’s boy”, because “God ain’t no punk”. And since homosexuals are always “goin’ out huntin’ for sin,” they aren’t asking for forgiveness, so they aren’t Christian. Because “God ain’t no punk” and “God is not mocked”. But if you’re straight, and you “ain’t gonna do it no more, dog,” then God will forgive you (“in many cases”).

Now I’ll ask again the larger question:

  • What does ANY of this have to do with Jason Collins announcing he’s gay in the NBA?
  • How is a theological conversation and condemnation a topic for discussion for ESPN?
  • And why would ESPN want THIS conversation about the condemnation of homosexuality entering into the conversation about a professional policy of tolerance for different sexual preferences in the NBA?

Why won’t Chris Broussard shut up about this? Perhaps because he knows it’s coming. And if he’s getting fired, he wants to portray ESPN as firing him for his religious beliefs, and not for his lack of professional discernment between those personal religious issues of faith, and those professional issues of policy. He knows he’s about to get fired, so he’s positioning himself as a martyr. And that will play and gain some traction among the most conservative Evangelicals in the country, who are always looking for a Christian martyr they can point to and say, “See, there is religious intolerance toward Christians in America.”

Yes. Religious intolerance in America. Against Christians. Of course.

By the way, at one point in his rambling toward the end of the interview, Broussard even talks about people who aren’t Christian using “condoms and strap-ons”, which elicits a audible sigh (“Ah, yeah…OK”) from a female host in the studio. Don’t miss that one.

ESPN might tolerate a mistake, but I don’t think they’ll tolerate an evangelist talking down to NBA fans.

Even the show’s hosts, who did an excellent job demonstrating patience throughout the interview, and asked some smart questions, tried to cut him off at the end of the interview. ESPN will do the same soon.

Maury has “You are NOT the Father”, so Chris Broussard should have a segment on ESPN called, “You are NOT a Christian!”

Maury Povich has special episodes of his Maury Povich Show called, “You are NOT the Father,” where men learn via paternity tests whether or not they are the father of a child, usually with the humiliated mother sitting there in the studio.

This travesty of American television gave me an idea following Chris Broussard’s declaration that newly-out gay NBA player Jason Collins is “not a Christian,” saying,

“I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle…if you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says, ‘you know them by their fruits’, it says that, you know, that’s a sin, and if you’re openly living in unrepentant sin…I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God, and to Jesus Christ, so I would not characterize that person as a Christian, because I don’t think the Bible would characterize him as a Christian.

Chris Broussard sat there on television and said that someone who claimed to be a Christian, really isn’t a Christian, because he disagreed with him doctrinally.

So, if ESPN is comfortable with its basketball analysts passing judgment on the religious claims of professional athletes, then I think ESPN should give Chris Broussard a new segment called, “You are NOT a Christian,” where Chris Broussard gives his ‘personal opinion’ why or why not certain athletes ARE or ARE NOT really adherents of the faiths they claim to follow.

Chris Broussard - You are NOT a Christian!

An invitation to the “You are NOT a Christian” episode of the new “Chris Broussard” show. (A spin-off from the Maury Povich Show)

It would go like this:

  • Jason Collins: because you are gay…you are NOT a Christian.
  • Tiger Woods: because you cheated on your wife…you are NOT a Buddhist.
  • Ephraim Salaam: because you are ‘walking in open rebellion to God’…you are NOT a Muslim.
  • Tim Tebow: because I agree with you doctrinally, you ARE a Christian.
  • But Ray Lewis: because of that whole stabbing thing, sorry, it was a close call, but…you are NOT a Christian.

That way, I don’t need to tune into Pat Robertson’s 700 Club on CBN to learn who really is a Christian and who I should oppose; I just need to turn over to ESPN.

Seriously, is THAT really what ESPN wants its analysts doing on TV? Passing judgment on the eternal souls of professional athletes based upon the analysts’ understanding and interpretation of his personal beliefs?

Chris Broussard - NOT a Christian

As one who has had this happen to him, I can tell you it’s sure to be a hit.

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